Junkyard Entertainment System

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About: A bit of a dabbler by nature with a bent towards working with wood for fun and with technology in the day job, I like to try and make things that allow me to explore the best of both worlds. I write ab...

I like to sometimes take a bit of a tour of my local auto salvage yard just to see what is new and interesting,

Often during those trips I will see something that make me stop for a moment and think "I could do something interesting with that..."

On my last trip to the yard, I noticed a number of vehicles (mostly minivans) that had these DVD players and screens built into them. These systems were meant to entertain back seat passengers during those long road trips.

Being intrigued by this, I researched a little bit about them, focusing on the various makes and models of vehicles that I found in the yard that had one of those systems installed.

The main problem that I had found with a lot of those systems was that they were electronically connected to the main stereo unit installed in the front dashboard of the vehicle. In essence this meant that the DVD player and screen, even though they were physically separate from the car's audio system, wouldn't be able to work without being able to talk to the main stereo unit,In order to do what I wanted to do, I really wanted the DVD and screen to act as a stand alone device.

Thankfully there appeared to be one vehicle that seemed to fit that bill - DVD units from mid 2000's Ford minivans.

So, grabbing my bag of tools - I headed back to the junkyard to identify a suitable donor for my entertainment system.

Step 1: What You Need to Build This

To build the entertainment system, I needed the following items:

Electronic Parts

  • DVD player / LCD screen combo - fresh from the junkyard
  • 2 infrared transmitter and receiver kits - I ordered mine from eBay for a few dollars
  • 12 volt power supply - I got mine from my local surplus store
  • 3 power sockets - I got them for a few cents off of eBay
  • 2 power switches - Sourced from the local surplus store
  • Hook up wire
  • Two 1/8 inch phono plugs - from eBay
  • Lead wires with DuPont connectors - I got mine off of eBay
  • 2 car speakers with included speaker grills - I also got these from my local surplus store
  • 2 LED's

Tools

  • Socket wrench and sockets
  • Wire cutters
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Drill Press
  • Brad nailer
  • Scroll Saw
  • Router with round over and straight bits
  • Corner clamps
  • Hot glue gun
  • Screwdrivers
  • Soldering iron
  • Rotary tool with cut off wheel and a small straight bit

Materials

  • Varnish
  • Black paint
  • Wood glue
  • Felt furniture protectors
  • Paint brushes
  • Half inch think birch for the screen, DVD player and speaker cabinets - I got my wood from my scrap bin
    • Two 10" X 3" pieces for the DVD sides
    • Two 10" X 8" pieces for the DVD top and bottom
    • One 7" X 2.25" piece for the DVD back
    • One 10" X 6.5" piece for the screen back
    • Two 9.25" X 3" pieces for the screen cabinet sides
    • One 10" X 1.5" piece for the screen top
    • One 3" X 9" piece for the screen cross member
    • Eight 7" X 5" pieces for the speaker cabinets
    • Two 6.5" X 6.5" pieces for the speaker backs.
  • Four 1.5" X 10" pieces of half inch thick red cedar for the screen frame

Step 2: Salvaging the Entertainment System

Once I had targeted my quarry, I was pleasantly surprised to see that removing the entertainment unit from the van was a very simple matter of just removing 4 bolts with a socket wrench and popping the whole unit out from the van's roof

To complete the removal, we also wanted to make sure that we kept the connector that connected the entertainment unit to the vehicle's wiring harness, The removal of the unit was completed by cutting the wires going into the unit with wire cutters. I made sure to leave a few inches of wire hanging outside of the connector in order to help make things easier for myself later on.

With that, our DVD player and screen was free!

The next step was to try and see if we can make our new acquisition come back to life.

That is where things started to get a little interesting.

Looking at the wiring for the connector for the entertainment unit, I notice that it utilized a 20 pin connector that was used for many years by Ford for these entertainment units. However an internet search for the wiring diagrams for these connectors showed a connector layout that was much different than the wiring I had for my unit.

It turns out that there seemed to be some differences on how things were wired over the various model years.

My entertainment unit had a 2004 manufacturing date stamp - so a quick internet search for 2004 Ford Freestar wiring diagrams provided my answer.

For the record, the wiring layout for my particular DVD player was this:

Pin #1 - White with Yellow Stripe wire - Voltage on all times

Pin #2 - Light Green with Black Stripe wire - Audio System On

Pin #3 - Light Green with Red Stripe wire - Illumination

Pin #4 - Braided wire - Shield

Pin #5 - White wire - Left Audio

Pin #6 - Red wire - Right Audio

Pin #7 - White wire - Left Audio

Pin #8 - Red wire - Right Audio

Pin #9 - Not Used

Pin #10 - Not Used

Pin #11 - Light Blue with Pink Stripe wire - Audio Protocol A

Pin #12 - Tan wire - Audio Protocol B

Pin #13 - Not Used

Pin #14 - Black wire - Ground

Pin #15 - Light Green wire - Left Audio

Pin #16 - Black wire - Right Audio

Pin #17 - Light Green wire - Left Audio

Pin #18 - Black wire - Right Audio

Pin #19 - Not Used

Pin #20 - Not Used

Armed with that information, I connected the wires for Pin 1, Pin 2 and Pin 3 together and hooked them up to a positive terminal, and I hooked the Ground wire on Pin 14 to the negative terminal of a 12 volt power source.

I turned on the power source - and the entertainment unit came alive.

The ultimate test - playing a DVD, was also successful

A very promising start. I now have the foundation for an interesting project.

The next step will be to rearrange the screen and DVD controls to so that we can view the screen with the unit sitting on a table (versus its old life of living on a ceiling)

Step 3: Preparing the Entertainment System for Its New Life

The main issue was in the way that the DVD player and the screen were installed in the minivan. Since the entertainment unit was installed in the roof of the minivan, the screen and player were upside down in the traditional home viewing sense where you would have your screen sitting on top of a table, not hanging down from the ceiling.

In order to make things "right side up" and to have things ready for a new cabinet, I needed to remove the player and screen components from their original containers.

To start the removal, I flipped the unit over in order to see the underside.

From that viewpoint I could easily see the DVD player itself and some infrared LED's that were used to send audio to a pair of infrared headphones (sadly those headphone were not present in the minivan when I removed the unit).

An initial inspection showed that the DVD player was attached to the plastic housing with a series of small bolts and that the electrical connections to the screen and infrared LED's were made with a few plastic connectors..

The first task was to disconnect the DVD from the screen and infrared LED's - this was done by gently pulling on the connectors until they were free from the DVD player

Next I removed the 4 bolts that attached the player to the housing with a socket wrench. Once the bolts were removed, the DVD Player just simply lifted out of the housing

With the DVD player out of the way, I had a bit of a brainwave.

I had wondered about making this entertainment unit Bluetooth audio capable, however the player had wireless capability already via the infrared headphone transmitters. This would be a bit of an intriguing thing to pursue since I would be able to take advantage of an out of the box function of the player versus having to try and put something together.

A quick internet search showed that I could easily get headphones that would work with the unit, but speakers that use infrared are a bit hard to come by.

But I think it's something worth looking into further (Stay tuned!) So, with that in mind, I removed the infrared LED"s from the housing by removing the bolts that secured the LED's with a socket wrench.

The last major component to remove was the screen.

Here, we were in luck.

When I inspected the case that contained the screen, I noticed that the case a snap together housing. Because of this, the case can be opened by prying open the case at the seam with a slotted screwdriver.

I had to be careful when opening the housing so that the screwdriver didn't slip and damage the screen.

With the case for the screen removed, the screen was now very easily accessible. The screen board was attached to the back of the case with 4 screws. Removing the screws freed the screen.

With everything now removed, it was probably a good idea to reconnect everything, apply power and make sure things still worked.

As a final test, I wanted to see what I had to work with from an audio perspective.

While a DVD was playing, I hooked up a small speaker to one of the pairs of audio wires on the wiring harness connector.

While there was sound coming from the speaker, it was quite faint.

If I were to use these audio feeds for my project, I would definitely need to add some sort of amplifier circuit.

Now that I've mined my raw materials, I need to now do some more investigation on the best way to produce wireless audio.

Step 4: Figuring Out Wireless Sound

While I can easily get the DVD player to start up and play movies, the DVD player was reliant on the vehicle's radio for sound, so the movies the DVD player showed were definitely of the silent variety.

While it would be fairly simply to hook up an audio amplifier to the audio outputs of the DVD player and connect a couple of wired speakers to the amplifier, I wanted to add a bit of a twist to this project and make the audio from the DVD player wireless.

The obvious choice would have been to hook the DVD player up to a Bluetooth based connection, but I really wanted to keep the cost of the project down to a minimum. With that criteria, I ended up settling for a much more older, but still a very robust technology - Infrared.

Before Bluetooth became the norm, the vast majority of wireless audio headphones used infrared as the means of transmitting audio signals. While they did work well, they did suffer from the drawback that the infrared transmitter and receiver needed to be in direct line of sight of each other in order to work, something that is not an issue with today's Bluetooth devices.

The good news though, is that transmitting infrared audio is fairly simple, requiring a relatively few parts to construct. A quick look on eBay turned up several infrared transmitter and receiver kits for only a few dollars. A quick click on the Buy Now button and I had 2 kits heading my way.

After a few weeks, the kits arrived.

Now one thing to note - that old saying "You get what you pay for" is still true. While I did get the kits in good shape and came with all the parts there was one thing that was missing - Instructions.

To the kit manufacturer's credit, the printed circuit boards were very well marked.

So the advice I would offer is this; if you a newbie to the world of electronics, this may pose to be a bit of a challenge for you, but if you have assembled a few kits before, the lack of instructions shouldn't be too much of a problem, just follow the diagram on the printed circuit board.

I started assembling the kit with the most complex part first - the receiver. I started the assembly by first installing the electrolytic capacitors. For those that aren't familiar with these types of capacitors, they need to be installed in the correct polarity on the circuit board. On the capacitor itself, the negative lead should be marked on the side of the capacitor, while the location for the negative lead on the board should be also marked. So as long as you install the negative wire in the negative hole on the board, things will be fine. Once the capacitors are installed, just solder them into place.

Next I installed the socket for the amplifier chip (don't install the chip itself onto the board) .

Looking at the socket, there should be a small notch in one end of the socket itself - this notch should match a notch marked on the circuit board location for the socket. Make sure that the socket is seated into the board with the notch markings matching and solder the socket into place.

With the socket in place we then installed the ceramic capacitors onto the circuit board. While these capacitors are not sensitive to circuit polarity, they can be a bit hard to understand what value they have since they typically are stamped with a 3 digit code. Once again, the circuit board held the clue. Insert the capacitor that has the same value as the one stamped on the board and solder them in place.

With the capacitors installed, the next step is to install the resistors. As before, just insert the appropriate resistor into the correct spot on the board and solder them in place.

Finally we need to install the red LED and the infrared receiver LED. There is a bit of a trick for LED's. On the circuit board, there is a symbol for the LED on the board for the red LED and a negative and positive terminal for the receiver. In cases like that, I tend to have a bit of a hard time knowing which side is which on a LED. In those cases I find drawing a cheat sheet quite helpful. (Oh, by the way, the short lead of an LED is the negative connection). Install the LED's in the right polarity on the board and solder them into place.

To finish up the board, I just soldered in the connectors for the speakers and the power, insert the amplifier chip into the socket (make sure that the notch on the chip aligns with the notch on the socket) and the receiver board is done.

The assembling of the transmitter board is very similar, albeit with less parts. Assembly followed the exact same process that I followed for the receiver.

With the infrared transmitter and receiver all wired up, it's now time to try them out on the DVD player.

While waiting for the kits to arrive I had gone out and bought a 12 volt power supply and a power connector to hook up to the DVD player.

Luckily the Infrared transmitter also ran on 12 volts, so hooking it up to power was a simple matter of soldering it in with the power connection for the DVD player.

The audio input for the transmitter was a standard small head phone jack. For testing purposes I soldered the left side audio inputs of the DVD player to a similar sized headphone plug and plugged it into the headphone jack of the transmitter.

With everything all hooked up, it was time for a quick smoke test. Connecting the power to the DVD player, the red LED on the transmitter lit up with no smoke in sight - so far so good.

With the transmitter hooked up, I then hooked up the receiver. Hook up was a simple matter of connecting the receiver to a small speaker and powering it up with a 9 volt battery.

Finally all I had to do make sure that the infrared LED's on the transmitter and receiver were pointing to each other, I then put a DVD into the player, sat back and watched the show.

Step 5: Building the DVD Cabinet

Now that the electronic part of the project has been sorted out, I now needed to look into how we should package everything up.

My intent for this project was to have everything contained in a wooden cabinet so that it could very easily fit in a home setting. The woodworking part of this project will be separated into two parts; building a case for the DVD player, and a frame for the LCD screen.

For this project, I wanted to make things as functional as possible with as little frills as possible - basically I'm just building a box. For this box, I used some 1/2 inch birch that I had laying around the shop. In order to make things as neat as possible, I wanted to have the corners of the box meet at a 45 degree angles.

I started by taking measurements of the DVD player in order to get the width and lengths of all sides that I needed for the box. For the length of the box, I added an extra 2 inches to the length in order to allow some working room for adding the infrared transmitters later on.

I then cut out 4 pieces of birch to the sizes that I had measured with a miter saw, making sure that all the corner edges where cut at a 45 degree angle.

When I started to assemble the box around the player, I encountered my first hiccup.

When the DVD player was installed in the minivan, it was attached using screws through a mounting flange that is part of the DVD player housing. Unfortunately these flanges stick out from the side of the DVD player, preventing a proper fit for the case. I needed to remove those flanges. A few minutes work with my rotary tool soon addressed that but removing the flanges.

I then started work on the case. The first thing I did was to add a 1/4 inch deep groove along one end of the box side pieces. The purpose of the groove was to add some clearance for the face plate of the DVD player. This was done with a 1/2 straight bit on the router table.

Once the grooves were cut, I then switched the straight bit on my router to a round over bit and rounded over the edge opposite to the side where I had put the groove.

I then started to do a bit of a test fit of the case pieces with the DVD player. During the test fit, I did find a couple of complications.

The first thing I found was that the DVD player had a exhaust fan coming out of one side. Obviously I needed to provide some way for the hot air to vent from the player.

To create a exhaust vent in the side of the case, I first marked the location of the fan on the corresponding side piece for the case.

Once the location was marked out, I then drilled out a series of small ventilation holes within the location that I marked into the side.

With the ventilation holes in place I then glued the side piece to the case bottom.

With the one side now attached to the bottom of the case, I then focused my attention the other side of the case, which is where I found the another complication. I quickly found out that I needed to have some sort of access for the video connector.

To create the access for the connector, I followed the same process that I followed for the ventilation holes, I first traced out the location of the connector and then I drilled out a pilot hole in the middle of the area that I had traced out and cut the opening out with a scroll saw.

In order to make sure that I had cut the opening to the right size, I made a test fit of the video connector in order to make sure that everything was good.

Once I had confirmed that the video connector slot was the right size I then glued that side of the case to the case bottom.

Next I drilled a 5 mm hole about an inch from the back of each case side in order to allow for the installation of the infrared transmitters later on.

With all the holes and openings cut and drilled out, we should be able to button up the case - but sadly no....

A final wrinkle in our plans had popped up - the power connector for the DVD player is positioned pointing up. In order to do what I wanted to do, I really needed the power connector to point out towards the back of the case.

Luckily, the power connector for the DVD player is bolted to the chassis of the DVD player with just a couple of machine screws. Removing the screws allowed me to re position the power connector in the direction that I wanted

With that last hurdle removed, I started to do the final assembly of the case. I first gave the case a quick sanding.

Then as an added flare I gave the inside groove of the case a coat of black paint in order to blend it in a bit with the front face plate of the DVD player once the case is assembled.

With that, I was able to then do the final assembly of the case. Now for this project, I had to do things a bit out of sequence. In order to make things easier later on, I needed to have the DVD player installed in the case before I applied any final finish to the wood. I just find it easier to do it this way than to have to deal with varnishing many smaller pieces later on.

So, having said that, I installed the DVD player into the case and buttoned it up with some wood glue, held in place with some masking tape until the glue dried.

With that the case for the DVD player was complete.

Step 6: Building the Screen Cabinet

Now that we have our cabinet built, the next step is to do something for the LCD screen for the entertainment unit. My plan is to have the entertainment unit as an "all in one" affair. More specifically, I want to have the LCD screen and DVD player to be joined together as one piece. My design vision for the screen is to give it a look of a framed picture that would "sit" on top of the DVD player.

But before I can build the decorative picture frame, I need to first build a cabinet that would allow me to house the screen and attach it to the DVD player.

I started by building a frame to hold the LCD screen. To build the frame, I used four 1/2 inch X 1/2 inch birch strips cut roughly to the size of the LCD screen. These strips will be used as side frames for the screen.

I then roughly assembled the strips around the frame and measured out the overall dimensions of the screen and strips combined in order to come up with a measurement for a back mount for the frame.

With that measurement I then cut out a piece of 1/2 inch birch to that size to serve as a back mount. In my particular case, my board already had a 1/4 inch groove cut into it which made it perfect later on for routing the wiring harness for the screen (if I didn't have that groove, I would have needed to cut one out with my router).

With the back mount cut out I then proceeded to cut the side frames to size. For neatness I cut the ends of the side strips at a 45 degree angle so that corners were as neat as possible. During the test fitting of the screen I noticed that some of the electrolytic capacitors on the back of the screen stuck out a little bit, which prevented the screen from lying flat on the back mount. To allow room for them I had to cut out a little bit of wood from the back mount.

Before gluing the frame strips to the back mount, I added a small pass through hole into the back mount to allow access for the wiring harness. I then placed the screen on top of the back mount and proceeded to install the strips by gluing them to the back mount and placing them snugly around the screen.

When I attached the strip that was in the location where I had cut the wiring harness access hole, I made sure to route the wiring harness through the hole before installing the strip.

When building the mounting frame, I noticed that the length of the wiring harness was not enough for it to reach the connector on the DVD player.

In essence, I needed to lengthen the wiring harness by about a foot. This meant I had to cut each of the wires on the harness and splice a length of wire to each wire. There were about 20 wires that made up the harness, so this was a bit of a monotonous process and I needed to take great care since I need to make sure I didn't connect the wrong wires together.

To do this I cut each wire individually and solder the splices together one wire at a time.

Once all the wires were lengthened, I applied a little bit of hot glue around the splices to provide some insulation.

he next step in the process was to build a mount in order to attach the screen to the DVD player. For this I decided to make the DVD player cabinet act as a cradle for the screen cabinet, with 2 arms coming down from the screen cabinet and attaching to the sides of the DVD player.

To do this, I cut out two 3.5 inch by 8 inch pieces of 1/2 inch birch. I then test fitted the two pieces by standing them up against the sides of the DVD player and marked the location of the top of the DVD player on the two pieces with a pencil.

My plan is to have the screen positioned at a slight upward angle in order to make the viewing of the screen a little bit easier. I figured that having the screen at a 15 degree angle was probably the best option.

From one of the outer edges of the line that I had marked on the 2 pieces of birch I then drew a 15 degree line to the top of each piece.

I then made a cut along that line with a saw.

With the DVD player mounts cut out, I then started the assembly of the screen cabinet.

I took another 3.5 inch wide piece of 1/2 inch birch and cut it to the length of the frame that we just built for the screen. This piece of wood will serve as a cross piece in order to attach the two DVD player mounts together. I applied glue to both ends of this piece of birch and attached it to the 2 DVD players mounts such that the cross piece was sitting on top of the DVD player while it was attached to the mounts. I made sure that the sides with the angled cuts were both pointing in the same direction.

As an added measure of keeping the cabinet square, I also dry fitted the screen frame into the mounting assembly while the glue dried.

With the mounting frame now put together, I then glued the LCD screen into the mounting frame. When gluing the screen in place, I made sure that the screen was flush with the angled cuts in the frame.

I will be enclosing the back of the frame cabinet, so I need to provide a way for the wiring harness to be able to come out of the frame cabinet so that it can be connected to the DVD player. I made this possible by drilling a 1 inch hole on the right hand side of the cross piece of the cabinet.

With the wiring harness looked after, we need to enclose the back of the screen cabinet. I took measurements of the back of the frame assembly and cut out a piece of 1/2 inch birch to size. I then glued the outside edges of the frame and nailed the back into place with brad nails.

As a last step, I then took measurements of the top of the frame assembly and cut out a piece of 1/2 inch birch to size. I glued the outside edges of the frame top and attached the piece into place.

With that the screen cabinet is built and ready to be attached to the DVD player.

We still need to do a little more work to the cabinet, such as installing a decorative frame and applying a varnish to it, but that will be covered as part of the installation to the DVD player.

Step 7: Putting Everything Together

Now that we have the 2 major pieces of the unit safely housed in their custom made cabinets, the final step is to now merge the two into one.

Due to the amount of work that were done in the previous steps, this will be actually a very straight forward process. At it's core, we just need to plug in the wiring harness from the screen into the DVD player, apply a bit of wood glue to the bottom of the screen cabinet and attach it to the top of the DVD player.

When attaching the screen cabinet I made sure to have the screen cabinet attached in the center of the DVD player while covering up the wiring harness going into the DVD player.

Once the glue has dried, the screen is now permanently attached tot he DVD player.

At this point we can now finally start applying a finish to the (now combined) cabinet. Since I needed to have all the electronic components installed before I could apply varnish, I need to be extra careful that I don't gum up the works while I'm finishing the cabinet, so the speak.

The screen will have a finished frame added in the next step, so I won't be applying any varnish near the screen itself, but I do need to take some care around the DVD player.

Before varnishing, I masked off the outside edges of the DVD player face plate with some masking tape

Then I applied a couple of coats of varnish to the cabinet. While I applied the varnish, I also made sure to not apply too much varnish around the ventilation hole for the DVD player.

Next we need to add the finishing touch to the LCD screen. As I mentioned in a previous post I wanted to create the illusion of having the screen look like a framed picture. In order to create that feel, I made a picture frame out of some 2 inch wide red cedar that I had left over from a previous project.

Creating the frame itself was basically cutting the cedar pieces to size so that the cedar pieces will fit neatly around the screen. Once the pieces were cut to size, the frame was assembled using wood glue and corner clamps.

After the glue was dry the frame was given a quick sanding followed by a couple of coats of varnish.

Finally the frame was attached to the screen with some wood glue and clamps.

Now that the screen was taken care of, we now focused our attention to the back of the entertainment unit.

In one of my earlier posts, I built and tested out a couple of infra red transmitters in order to provide the sound for the DVD player. The time has come to permanently install the transmitters into the cabinet,

I first soldered a couple of wires with DuPont female connectors connected to them to the positive and negative leads for the power connector for the DVD player.

Next I took a 1/8 inch phono jack plug and soldered the left side speaker wires on the DVD player wiring harness to it.

I then plugged the audio jack into the infrared transmitter followed by the DuPont connectors being plugged into the transmitter's power sockets

I gave everything a quick test by plugging in the DVD player into a power source.

If things went well, the LED on the transmitter should light up and you should hear sound if you aim an infrared receiver at the transmitter.

Once everything checks out, insert the infrared LED of the transmitter into the hole in the left side of the DVD cabinet and hold it in place with some hot glue.

Repeat the process again for the right side infrared transmitter.

The last step is to button up the back of the DVD cabinet.

I took a 2.25 inch by 7 inch piece of 1/2 inch birch and I marked out the location for the power socket for the DVD player.

I then drilled a 3/8 inch hole at that spot and widened out the hole a little bit with a rotary tool.

After that I installed the power socket into the hole, secured it in place with some hot glue and installed the birch back into the cabinet - I wanted to make the back friction fit into the case in order to allow for easier access if I need to access the infrared transmitters at some time in the future.

With that the entertainment unit was complete - except for a small exception.....

We still need speakers.

Step 8: Building the Wireless Speakers

With the completion of the display and DVD units of the system, the only thing left to do to complete the system was to give it a voice.

As you may recall in a previous step, I constructed and tested an infrared transmitter and receiver system that would allow the entertainment system to transmit sound wirelessly. Now that we have installed the transmitter part of this arrangement into the DVD player, we needed to give the receiver the same treatment.

Therefore the focus of this of this post will be on building a wireless speaker. Even though these particular speakers will be for our entertainment system, you can build these for almost any situation where you would like to have wireless sound.

Construction of the speaker itself is fairly straight forward since it really comprises of 3 main components:

  • A Speaker
  • A cabinet for the speaker
  • The infrared receiver to drive the speaker.

Almost any speaker will work. In my case I picked up some very inexpensive car speakers that came with their own speaker grill at my local surplus store.

Likewise, speaker cabinet in itself is fairly easy to build.

To build the cabinet, I based the dimensions around the speaker grill and the depth of the speaker itself. Based on that information I determined that a finished speaker cabinet of 6 inches by 6 inches with a depth of 5 inches would work the best.

Armed with that information, I cut out four pieces of 1/2 inch birch 6 inches wide but a little longer than 6 inches in order to allow for some trimming for length later.

The next step in the process was to prepare the sides of the cabinet. More specifically I wanted to add a 1/2 inch groove along each edge of the sides in order allow for the speaker grill and back of the cabinet to seamlessly and snugly fitted into the sides when everything was assembled.

To create the grooves, I installed a 1/2 inch straight bit into a router and set the router's cutting depth to 1/4 inch.

When the router was set up, I took the 1/2 inch birch boards and just ran the two long edges of the boards through the router such that I had a 1/2 inch wide and 1/4 inch deep groove along each long side of the boards. While doing that also I made sure that the grooves are on the same side of the board.

Once the grooves where in place I then switched the router over to a round over bit and rounded over the one of the edges opposite from the side that we put the groove on. This edge will act as the front of the cabinet go forward.

With the edges prepared I then cut a 45 degree angle off of one end of the boards, making sure that the "long" part of the 45 degree angle was on the side of the board that does not have the groove.

Using the speaker grill as a template I then cut the boards to size by cutting a 45 degree angle at the other end of the boards, again making sure that the long part of that 45 degree angle was on the side that did not have a groove.

Taking one of the boards, I then marked and drilled a 5 mm hole 1.5 inches in from the back and bottom of the board. The purpose of the hole will allow the sensor from the receiver access to the outside world.

Now that all the cabinet pieces have been cut out, the body of the cabinet can be assembled. I started by applying glue to a 45 degree edge of two of the boards. I then joined the two other boards to the glued boards so that I had 2 half squares.

When assembling the boards, I also made sure that the sides that had the rounded over edges were both on the same side.

I then clamped the joined pieces together with corner clamps and allowed the glue to dry.

When the glue had dried, I removed the clamps and applied glue to the remaining 45 degree edges. I then joined the 2 half squares together and clamped them with the corner clamps until the glue had dried.

With the body of the cabinet built, this was a good time to give things a good sanding and couple of coats of varnish.

Once the varnish had dried, the speaker was installed.

Installation was simply a matter of applying some hot glue along the back edge of the speaker grill and inserting the speaker assembly into the front of the speaker cabinet.

The speaker was held firmly in place until the hot glue had dried.

With the front of the cabinet sorted out, I then shifted my focus to the back of the cabinet. I cut out a 6 inch by 6 inch piece of 1/2 inch birch.

Once I cut it out I then gave the back a quick test fit into the cabinet. It should be a friction fit since I don't want to permanently attach the back to the cabinet just in case I need to access the infrared received at some point in the future.

Next on the agenda was to wire everything up in the cabinet.

For the speaker, I wanted to have a few key features. I wanted to have the power to be provided from a source outside of the speaker, I also wanted to be able to turn the speaker on or off and I wanted some sort of indication that the speaker was working.

To accomplish that in addition to the infrared receiver I needed to have a power socket, a LED and an on/off switch along with some wire leads with DuPont connectors attached to them.

As I just mentioned, I wanted to have some way to provide some sort of indication that the speaker was powered on. The receiver does have a LED installed on its circuit board to indicate power, however with the receiver enclosed inside the speaker cabinet, it won't be very useful.

To provide that external indication, I carefully removed the LED from the receiver's circuit board and replaced it with a couple of lengths of wire that had female DuPont connectors on the end of them. I then inserted a new LED into the DuPont sockets

With the LED installed I then hooked up the speaker wires to the receiver output jacks, inserted the receiver sensor in the hole that I had drilled into the side of the cabinet and glued the receiver in place with hot glue. .

I then marked the location for the on/off switch and the power connector on the cabinet back and created the access openings for them by first drilling a pilot hole at the marked locations followed by enlarging the openings to fit with a rotary tool.

While I was there I also drilled out a 5 mm hole for the LED.

After creating the access holes I then soldered the switch up such that one of the connectors on the switch was attached to the positive wire going into the receiver. The other connector on the switch was then soldered to a length of wire that was in turn soldered to the positive terminal of the power socket.

The negative wire from the receiver was then soldered to the negative connector on the power socket.

The switch, power socket and the LED where then installed into the cabinet back and secured in place with hot glue.

At this point this effectively completes the speaker build. The only thing left to do now is to install the back into the cabinet, apply some felt feet to the bottom of the speaker, plug it in and turn it on.

Of course we want to try it out. I put in a DVD into the entertainment system, grabbed some popcorn and watched the show.

I am quite pleased on how things turn out - something was likely to be destined for the crusher is now living a new life.

Thanks for checking out my Instructable!

If you find this intriguing, please check out my site to see what other things I'm tinkering with!

Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure

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    8 Discussions

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    heuretic

    6 weeks ago

    Reminds me of the old days . . . My garage stereo was an AM/FM/ Auto Cassette player with a 12V trickle charger as the power supply, connected to an old motorcycle battery as the DC power conditioner, with auto speakers in plywood boxes.

    1 reply

    I'm with you there - Many, many years ago I did something similar with an old AM radio that I rescued from a 72 Ford pickup that was my grandfather's just before we had to send it to the crusher. Back then there were still music stations on AM so I certainly had a lot of fun with it.

    Thinking about it now - I suppose there's still a little bit of my grandfather's old truck radio in this project :)

    Cheers!

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    yrralguthrie

    6 weeks ago

    That's a really good idea! I think I'll make mine a bit simpler, however. Purchase a fireplace video for $5.00 and a DVD player for $35.00 and I will have a 44" fireplace where my TV is. And in the summer I can have a waterfall on the TV.

    1 reply

    Thanks!

    That actually would be a cool idea - in my part of the world I would be more inclined to have a roaring fireplace video for the winter time :)

    I think I paid about $10 for my DVD / screen combo (they aren't a very high demand item in the junkyard in my area) - you could probably wire up an HDMI or video composite to hook the DVD player to the big screen (I might play with that idea myself) - might be a "little" bit cheaper (plus you would be doing some recycling to boot).

    Cheers!